Today DxO released its first major version of its Nik Collection suite that it acquired from Google last year. The new version of the software, Nik Collection 2 comes with over 40 brand new presets and support for high-resolution monitors. While the support for high-resolution monitors is great to finally see in Nik Collection, it seems like nothing else has really changed as far as the tools are concerned. In fact, I personally don’t think that this release even deserves a major version name change, as it seems to be more of a “preset release” than anything else. None of the actual tools had any serious changes and their version numbers remain the same.
42 New Presets
Nik Collection 2 now comes with a total of 42 new presets under a new “En Vogue” category for Color Efex Pro 4, Silver Efex Pro 2, HDR Efex Pro 2 and Analog Efex Pro 2. I gave some of the presets a try within Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2, and to be honest, I really didn’t care for most of them. In Color Efex Pro 4, the “Clarity Bump” preset (or “Recipe”, which is how it is referred to within the software) is pretty nice if you need to quickly bring some clarity to a flat RAW file, but I found some of the adjustments to be a bit too aggressive for my taste, especially after any Lightroom adjustments. For some images, it looked pretty decent, while for others, I had to still fiddle with the sliders to get the look I wanted. Here is a “before and after” version of the image that worked out OK (with no prior Lightroom adjustments) with the Clarity Bump preset:
Not bad, which I can’t really say about other presets, especially the one called “HDR Like”. This one should have been named “Grunge HDR”, because it slaughters the shadows and brings out too much clarity, making images look very ugly. I went through the new “En Vogue” (really?) presets in Silver Efex Pro 2 and found them to be equally underwhelming. All these were just different slider values applied to some presets.
Finally, and the only reason why I even bought the upgrade for my DxO Nik Collection license, is the arrival of proper support for high-resolution monitors. Many of us have been annoyed by lack of support for 4K+ monitors in Nik Collection and this release addresses the problem. Fonts look bigger as they should and sliders seem to be easier to grab (although I wish the sliders looked a bit larger). I tested HiDPI support on a 27″ iMac screen and it looked pretty nice. Here is how the updated Color Efex Pro 4 looks like:
Here is a quick video overview of the above, from DxO:
Is It Worth It?
Considering that DxO put little effort into this release, you might be wondering if it is worth upgrading to Nik Collection 2. It seems like the upgrade cost for the new version is $59 until June 30th for those who already own a license, and those who have not purchased it yet will have to shell out $99 for a new license. That’s a lot to pay for a bunch of fairly useless presets and a single new feature. DxO put zero effort into enhancing existing Nik Collection tools, which is unfortunate. If you still have a free version of Nik Collection and you can get by all the bugs and lack of HiDPI support, then you can just continue using it. However, if you want to get the latest and greatest version of the software and you want to support DxO’s efforts in improving the product, you can pay for the upgrade.
Despite this rather underwhelming release, I am personally going to upgrade to the latest version to keep mine up-to-date and support DxO’s efforts in improving the product in the future. After all the ownership changes Nik Software went through, it still remains as my favorite post-processing tool that I rely to post-process my images. However, considering that I bought the first version of the paid suite, I feel like DxO should have priced the upgrade license at a much more reasonable cost. If DxO continues to release such crappy software updates, I will move to some other tool and stop recommending it to our readers in the future.